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James Gandolfini’s widow has heaped praise on the actor’s son, Michael, revealing it’s “very surreal” to see him taking on her late husband’s role of Tony Soprano.
Last month, the first trailer of upcoming HBO movie The Many Saints of Newark, featuring Michael as the future TV mob boss, debuted and now his stepmother has spoken out to salute him for taking on the challenging role in The Sopranos prequel.
“It was almost surreal to see Michael in the trailer,” Deborah Lin told the New York Post. “I know it took a lot of courage for him to take this role. It was very emotional. But the whole family is just so proud of him. His father would be very proud.”
Michael, now 22, portrays the teenage Tony in the movie, which is set in the 1960s.
He was only 14 when dad James suffered a fatal heart attack while on vacation in Rome, Italy in 2013, but he has found that acting helped him through his grief.
Although he hadn’t watched the series while his father was alive, he found inspiration in scenes featuring Tony Soprano and his therapist Dr. Melfi, played by Lorraine Bracco: “I recorded four hours of his monologues with Melfi and walked around New York with them constantly, constantly, constantly playing in my ear,” the young actor said.
James and his first wife, Marcy, wed in March 1999, two months before Michael’s birth and shortly after The Sopranos debuted on HBO. The series made the late Gandolfini a household name and earned him three Emmy Awards.
Marcy filed for divorce in 2002 and Gandolfini married Deborah, a model, in 2008. Their daughter Liliana was born in 2012 and is now quite close to her older half-brother, Lin says.
The Many Saints of New York premieres on Oct. 1.